Tag Archives: 2021

Accuracy of Polls in the 2021 Devolved and London Mayoral Elections

This May’s major elections were accompanied by a considerable amount of polling. This included a number of polls conducted close to polling day. Here we assess the accuracy of these final polls in Scotland, Wales and London.

We define as a “final poll” one that conducted at least some of its fieldwork on or after the Monday before the election.

Scottish Parliament

Voters were given two ballot papers – one for their local constituency MSP, the other for a party list. Five final polls were conducted and their estimates of both the constituency and list vote are shown below. The tables also compare the average of the polls with the eventual outcome.

Constituency Vote

 SNPConLabLib DemOtherMethodSample sizeFieldwork
Savanta ComRes42252283Online100130.4-4.5
Ipsos MORI50202263Telephone150230.4-3.5

The average estimate of the five polls is within a point of the final outcome for all of the parties, making it a very creditable overall performance.

List Vote

 SNPConLabLib DemGreenOther
Savanta ComRes342319698
Ipsos MORI3923184124

The estimates of the list vote were slightly less accurate, with most polls underestimating SNP support and overestimating that of the Greens, but otherwise the average estimate was again no more than a point adrift of the final outcome.

The figures for two other polling companies whose last poll was completed before the Monday before polling day are shown below.

Constituency Vote

 SNPConLabLib DemOtherMethodSample sizeFieldwork

List Vote

 SNPConLabLib DemGreenOther

Welsh Senedd

Voters were again presented with both a constituency and a list ballot paper. Two final polls of voting intentions were conducted.

Constituency Vote

 Plaid CymruConLabLib DemOtherMethodSample sizeFieldwork
Savanta ComRes182836612Online100229.4-4.5

List Vote

 Plaid CymruConLabLib DemGreenAbolishOther
Savanta ComRes1925325569

While very close for Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and the Greens, both polls underestimated the level of Labour and Liberal Democrat support, and overestimated that for Others on the constituency ballot and the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party in particular on the list.

London Mayor

Four final polls of the contest to be Mayor of London were conducted. The table shows their estimate of the first preference vote.

 ConLabLib DemGreenOtherMethodSample sizeFieldwork
Savanta ComRes29418517Online100129.4-4.5

These polls were less accurate than those in Scotland and Wales. Although the average figure for the Greens was almost spot on, as was the estimate for combined tally of minor parties and independents, the polls overestimated the Labour and Liberal Democrat vote, and heavily underestimated the Conservatives.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2021

The Meeting was held via Zoom on 19 January 2021.


  • Professor Sir John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Simon Atkinson, Management Committee
  • Johnny Heald, ORB
  • James Kanagasooriam, Hanbury Strategy
  • Anthony Wells, YouGov
  • Bill White, LucidTalk
  • Owen Thomas, Yonder
  • Chris Hopkins, Savanta ComRes
  • Luke Taylor, Kantar Public
  • Martin Boon, Deltapoll
  • Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation
  • Adam Drummond, Opinium
  • Seb Wilde, Public First
  • Ivor Knox, Panelbase
  • Gregor Jackson, ICM
  • Justin Ibbett, Focaldata
  • Gideon Skinner, Ipsos MORI
  • Tom Lubbock, JL Partners

1. Apologies for absence

Harry Carr, Demos

2.  Minutes of the last AGM

The minutes were approved.
There were no matters arising that were not already on the agenda.

3.  Officers’ reports

Financial report 

A written report was supplied in advance of the AGM.

During 2020 we received £3,300 in subscription fees, mostly representing 2020 subs. £1,550 subs remain outstanding from 2020

Expenditure during the year was £1,477.26. Of this £960 was for the Journalists’ Guide design, and the remainder for various website expenses.

The bank balance at the end of 2020 was £17,826.84.

With the current membership annual subscription income is £3,500.

Disclosure issues dealt with by the officers

Other than the usual small number of complaints about matters not within the BPC’s remit, there were no complaints about disclosure that required action from the Officers.

The Sub Committee on Disclosure has been refreshed with some members of it stepping down. Each was replaced by someone in the same field – academic/journalist/pollster.

Membership applications dealt with by the officers

Two new members were approved since the AGM: focaldata and JL partners, while Portland Communications and Redfield and Wilton Strategies had become members just before the last AGM. 

We currently have 25 members.

Web and social media report

A written report was supplied in advance of the AGM. SA outlined the main areas where refreshing the website had taken place, and others where it is still ongoing

He also reported that the Twitter account has passed the 1,000 followers mark, and outlined his general policy of tweeting information rather than starting or joining debates.

4.  Appointment of the officers

  • President
    NM nominated JC, SA seconded, elected nem con
  • Secretary
    DLL nominated NM, JH seconded, elected nem con
  • Management Committee member
    NM nominated SA, AW seconded, elected nem con

5.  President’s report 

Report had been distributed to members. JC in particular drew attention to the fact the BPC was likely to have to commit some funds to a training module for journalists. Once a more formal design with costing has been finalised the Officers will put a proposal to members. 

JC thanked SA for all his work on the website and the Journalists’ Guide. 

JC reported that his report on the 2019 election polls is still ongoing.

JC raised the idea of moving to a virtual meeting for future AGMs. General feeling was that, Covid permitting, a physical meeting with Zoom option would be preferable.

JC reported that, as outlined at the last AGM, the Officers were now meeting virtually every six weeks or so.

6.  House of Lords Committee further update

Committee itself has completed its work but there is a follow-up sub-committee, which JC has given evidence to. Generally the BPC’s work in response to the Committee has been well-received. In answer to a question from DLL JC said that the idea of statuary regulation was not recommended in the report.

7.  Journalists’ Guide to Opinion Polls

SC reported that the Guide was seen as an important way of encouraging the good reporting of polls. Rather than rewrite the previous guide it was decided to start from scratch, with the aim of creating a much shorter guide, in the hopes that more people would read it.

Many members commented helpfully on the drafts, and the final version was sent to a designer to make it look more appealing.

A print run will be produced for appropriate meetings or conferences.

AW asked if there had been any contact from IPSO, and JC reported that there had not.

8.  Proposed changes to the Rules

NM proposed, and SA seconded, the following changes to the BPC rules:

  • The addition of a new clause 2.8: Members are required to check the accuracy of the polling figures in any publication by a client of the results of a poll the member has conducted.

It was agreed that it would not be possible to impose a mandatory requirement for members to include the BPC rules in their contracts, but that it would be desirable for members to check that their contracts do enable them to comply with BPC rules. JC suggested that the Officers draft a revised amendment to the rules that indicated that ‘wherever possible’ members should endeavour to check the accuracy of the figures in the initial release of a poll, and then send this new draft round for discussion by email.

9.  Discussion of Members’ contractual requirement re disclosure rules

The issue was raised of whether members should include the relevant BPC Rules in their own contracts with clients. There was no broad support for this but JC suggested that members looked at their standard contracts to see what if anything could be done to ensure their own obligations under the BPC Rules are met, and to report back at the next AGM.

10.  Any Other Business

JC thanked everyone for attending and also proposed a vote of thanks to ORB for setting up the meeting. He also thanked members for their continued work in ensuring that tables etc are always made available.